It’s been months now since Craigslist decided to give their user base a better search, user and mobile experience. Since my last article about the changes to Craigslist and the debate about posting tools, another major change was released. I think this latest change can put the debate to rest. If you watched the Webinar with Sarah Greenough on MFI, you know all about it. In December, Craigslist changed their Terms of Service and forced our users to agree to it. These terms mean that WE as Property Management Companies can be sued by Craigslist if we post ads using a posting tool. Here is the legal mumbo jumbo:
[quote_box_center]USE. You agree not to use or provide software (except for general purpose web browsers and email clients, or software expressly licensed by us) or services that interact or interoperate with CL, e.g. for downloading, uploading, posting, flagging, emailing, search, or mobile use.[/quote_box_center] [quote_box_center]to pay us for breaching or inducing others to breach the “USE” section, not as a penalty, but as a reasonable estimate of our damages (actual damages are often hard to calculate): $0.10 per server request, $1 per post, email, flag, or account created, $1 per item of PI collected, and $1000 per software distribution, capped at $25,000 per day.[/quote_box_center] Wait. We can be sued by Craigslist for using a posting tool? Scary stuff huh?
Some Craigslist tips
In the webinar I mentioned, Sarah Greenough talked about some great ways to overcome the recent Craigslist debacle. Sarah gave some good pointers:
- Consider posting directly to Craigslist, and create Craigslist kits which are simply folders on your computer including approved content (ad copy, titles, images) that you want the properties to use.
- It’s all about photos now on Craigslist. Upload lots of them. You get up to 12!
- Get creative with your contact information. Are you using an SMS text phone number? “Copy and paste this url” and provide the link to your website.
- Try using specific call tracking numbers for your ads.
- Use creative and descriptive headlines focusing on specific amenities or features. Renters are looking for location, apartment type, and rental rates so keep this in mind when you’re creating your titles.
- Write better ad copy. CL is a no bore zone. Please adhere to that.
Become a Content Marketer
Due to the ways the landscape has changed, it’s more important than ever to concentrate on putting some of your marketing efforts elsewhere. If you’re the progressive sort, you’re heavily into content marketing and understand how it can drive traffic to your website. There are great articles to learn more on ways to use blogging and the social experience to get people to find your awesome apartments:
- 1) How to drive traffic to your website with content marketing
- 2) 50 Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Website with Social Media
- 3) 7 Smart Ways to Combine Content Marketing with SEO for More Qualified Search Traffic
- 4) Eric Brown’s and Urbane Apartments great presentation at the Multifamily Social Media Summit 2014 with the “Social Media Marketing Crash Course for Apartment Managers”
All of these articles can teach you ways to turn your website into the focal point of your marketing efforts and make you one with the force. Sometimes, though, whether it’s staffing issues, buggy spell check, or C-Level push-back, content marketing might not work as well for everyone as we hope or think it should. Or, maybe you’re just the type who wants to be everywhere you can be. Either way, no problem. I have a list of some new sites that your apartment communities should be on, if they aren’t already.
Some FREE sites you can try
I’ve listed these sites in order of their importance or in our case, their ability to drive more leads:
This site rocks. Not only is their basic plan free but it will publish your apartments on over 20 sites for free. The list of sites it will update is extensive: Affordable Housing Solutions, Apartment Fetch, Apartment List, EveryRent, Lovely, MapLiv, Mitula, National Housing Locator System, Oodle, Padmapper, Place of Mine, RadPad, Realtor.com, RentJungle, Rentmls, Roomhunt, Showmetherent, Todayseniorliving, Trovit, Trulia, Vast, Yakaz, Zillow and Zumper. Truthfully, we’ve only seen leads from a handful of these but still, the ease of use and price make it worth checking out. You can also use this site to publish Craigslist ads but my reasoning above is why you probably shouldn’t.
There are lots of ways to get your site on Padmapper without having to post manually. Padmapper scrapes Craigslist ads as well as receives feeds from sites like RentLinx. Craigslist ads expire which could cause your Padmapper ad to be broken. Posting natively gets your ad better visibility and prevents your ad from disappearing. It’s worth checking out due to its popularity and younger demographic.
RentMint is another site we use that we have received a few leads from other the past year. It’s not a Craigslist killer but if you’ve got the time to setup an account, you’ll be rewarded with a few easy leads.
It’s a terrible domain name but eBay created its own Craigslist classified killer. It hasn’t killed anything but it’s a worthwhile place to stop and post an ad from time to time. Like RentMint, don’t expect miracles but a few free leads never hurt anybody.
This last one is a bit of a cop out but it’s true. When was the last time you’ve updated your website? Here’s a great article by Mike Whaling on 7 things your property website needs now. How many do you have?
Certainly hope I’ve given you enough information for today. Now go out there and do. You can’t rent more apartments by sitting there.
Happy renting everyone…
For more information on ways to spruce up your CL Ads: